Sunday, November 19, 2023

’New York’s Lodge History Project’


If you maintain an absurdly active Masonic schedule, you may be invited to Sunday night Zoom meetings for discussions of special topics that either demand participants from far away or that require more time than a local meeting can afford. I’m lucky for not having too many of these, and I just signed off from an organizational meeting for an effort near to my heart.

RW Steven Rubin, our Deputy Grand Master, and RW Gary Heinmiller, our Grand Historian, launched the Lodge History Project to benefit the more than 300 lodges in the Grand Lodge of New York. Thirty-eight Masons from all over the state were present for this preliminary discussion of what we can do, should do, how to do, etc. in a shared effort to uncover, inventory, and preserve items and just tell the Masonic story.

This is going to be ginormous.

From lodge artifacts and documents to public statuary and infrastructure, there are countless things to see, to explain, to inventory, to document. This work is daunting even at its most fundamental and local level. We have lodges in this jurisdiction that are older than our country, but even a lodge that’s several decades old will have volumes of records and boxes of ephemera, plus mementos and other treasures of all kinds that say “We were here and what we’ve done mattered!”

There are some plans soon to come to fruition that I can’t wait to share with you.

There wasn’t much time for us to talk during this introductory meeting, but some of the concerns mentioned were of one lodge discovering in storage the apron worn by its first Worshipful Master circa 1766. Tompkins Lodge 471 on Staten Island has an apron worn by its historic namesake. Another lodge is vexed by a painting in its possession.

There’s a whole other Masonic world packed away in attics, closets, basements, and other storage crannies—to say nothing of what venerable elder brethren took home for safe keeping.

I think we’ll have to fly Heather Calloway out here eventually.

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